Cuba - 3 reasons why diving there is awesome

There is an abundance of fish and luckily lots of sharks in the Caribbean sea and it seems they especially like the Cuba waters, maybe because it's still unspoiled due to the relatively small amount of diving tourism.

3 reasons why diving in Cuba is some of the best on the planet:

1. Cuba is still limited when it comes to diving, as diving operators have many difficulties to run a business there. Unless having good contacts with the Cuban government it is not possible to do business there. In addition, all diving operators have to pay nearly 50% of the profit back to the government. Plus, the employees on a liveaboard have to be Cuban citizen – almost no foreign employees allowed. So its not necessary to mention that even finding qualified Cuban employees which run the daily diving business are difficult to find. This fact leads to the conclusion, that there are not many diving operators and hence, not many divers who can destroy the underwater environment.

2. Cuba is difficult to get in for US American tourists. That leads to the point, that the amount of tourists, in general, is still low in Cuba and therefore the prices of diving is kept in a halfway payable sphere.

3. The third and most important reason was, that Cuba is probably one of the only spots in the world where its possible to dive with saltwater crocodiles in clear water, wild environment, without a cage but still under relatively safe circumstances. Post about diving with the crocodiles:
How is it to dive with saltwater crocodiles?

4. (A BONUS reason) The reason number 4 why to dive in Cuba is the high possibility to encounter whale shark like this. Jump to: Report of the Cuban whale shark Encounter.

November 18 - Havana to Jucaro (5h) to Jardines de la Reina (3h)

After visiting Havana for few days, I was ready to dive. It was a long trip to get to the Tortuga, the liveaboard from the Avalon fleet in the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen). The operator organized a big bus to collect all divers in Havana in the very early morning from the hotels and all the way towards Jucaro, a small harbor in central Cuba. It took about five hours from Havana and from Jucaro furthermore, another three hours with a comfortable taxi-boat, which brought us to the Tortuga. The whole trip lasted from 6:30am to 3:00pm until finally checking in on the Tortuga.

Diving Map Cuba

Port Jucaro in Cuba
Harbor in Jucaro. From here all the liveaboard depart the same day. With the taxi-boat its another three hours to the Tortuga in the Jardines de la Reina.

Port Jucaro in Cuba

Watertaxi to the Jardines de la Reina. The trip from mainland to Tortuga lasts 3.5 hours.

Arriving at the Tortuga Liveaboard

The Tortuga itself isnt a usual liveaboard, as it is not driving around from spot to spot, but instead always stays on the same place. Its fixed boat and its like a hotel. The big advantage of this is, that seasickness will not occur, as there is basically no movement to notice from the boat. Also there is WIFI on board, however, which is very slow but for place so far away from mainland, a big luxus - especially in addition as it is in Cuba. These two points where some big advantages and its why I opted for the Tortuga and not another of the few boats in the Jardines de la Reina. The other two liveaboards in the Jardines de la Reina are yachts that cruise around a little bit. However, as all the divesites are for all the liveaboard the same and not too far from each other, a yacht is not really necessary in the Jardines. As the Tortuga always stays on the same spot, the driving with the small motorboat ranges from 5 minutes up to 20 minutes, and this might be a bit of an advantage for the cruising liveaboards, as they only have to bring the divers out to the spots with the small motorboats for 5 minutes each way.

The Tortuga has a max capacity of 16 divers. But on this dive trip we were only 11 in total and due to this, I even had my own room with aircondition and bathroom for myself - which is another big luxus to have on a liveaboard. With only 11 divers in total, there was more than enough space on the whole boat.

On this first day, we didnt do any dives as it was almost evening when unpacking was done and then dinner was already served. Time to get ready for the next morning and wake up for the first dive at 8am, after having a delicious breakfast.

The itinerary for this 7 day dive trip was three dives a day, and in total 18 dives the whole week. 

November 19 - Diving in Cuba is different

Getting up for breakfast at 7am and first dive at 8am. The second dive is 10:30am and the third dive usually at 3pm. This is the schedule that will be every day the same for the whole week. The rental diving equipment is ready and waits to be dressed on :). From the first few dives on I somehow noticed that diving here in Cuba feels a bit different than in other places. Somehow I feel the animals down there under that surface are not as afraid of scuba divers as in other places. Most of them seem to be interested to see some scuba divers. And it's not just me who noticed that all the other divers on the boat noticed the same. There is also a good, healthy amount of fish and the corals are very intact, basically no bleaching visible or only on few occasions. 

Over under photo with shark.

Corals in Cuba are intact. They have amazing colors, not as in other places.

Many Barracudas can be found in the Caribbean Ocean

Thats how diving on the Tortuga works. With the small boat to the mainboat.

Tortuga skipper brings us safely back to the Tortuga.

Crew of Tortuga caters all divers after each dive.

Thresher Shark in Cuba?

Shark bumps into camera.

Crocodile in Cuba are fearless

Cuban Crocodiles like chicken, nothing stops them to get it.

Cuban Crocodile attacks chicken in Cuba

Diving with a crocodile in Cuba

Jardines de la Reina does have crocodiles

23.11.2017 - Expected to see again one or two sharks, but then...
There is an abundance of fish and luckily lots of sharks in the Caribbean sea and it seems they especially like Cuba, maybe because it's still unspoiled due to the relatively small amount of diving tourism. There were a different kind of big and small sharks on every single dive, sometimes a few, but most of the time there were a lot… several times more than 10 in one view. And they like divers around them - they're not escaping. A reason why sharks like the Jardines de la Reina also might be, because they get food sometimes. Definitely, not such a good thing to feed wild animals and nor is it for the ecosystem in general, but for having shark action underwater, absolutely fantastic.

November 24 - I didn't expect that there will be a big finale, but I was wrong (whale shark alarm triggered)

The last few days of diving in Cuba have been some of the best dive I've ever had. With so many sharks at one place on almost all diving days, the diving with the crocodile, the large amount of fish and the intact healthy corals. Perfect. I didn't think that there could be any topping, but I was wrong.

On the second last day of the week, we came back from the afternoon dive and we saw many birds close above the surface and this is a sign that there are whale sharks below.

And so it was.. the big fat whale shark.

We had only a few seconds to get read and jump from the motorboat and just after dropping into the water, there it was swimming right towards us and a few seconds later it went off again.

We went back on the boat and followed the birds again, jumped into the water a second time and the whale shark was swimming one more time, right towards us and then switched left, went off into the blue.

Video: Whaleshark wakes up! 

Dive with whaleshark

Whaleshark in Cuba

Encounter a whaleshark in Jardines de la Reina

Scuba with whalesharks should last much longer than only a few seconds.

Diver get closer to whaleshark, to have ultimate experience.

Beautiful fins of amazing whalesharks can be found in Cuba.

View from the top of the Tortuga. Calm clear water onto the mangroves where crocodiles live. 

It was 6am in the morning, ready to depart on early Saturday morning towards the mainland, back to Jucaro.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a fun underwater diving adventure in Cuba. I was mesmerized by the pictures of aquatic life and I have never seen water so blue or clear before. Beautiful photography that captures every moment! What was the water temperature like, by the way? Wish you would have said what you had for breakfast. I always enjoy reading about the culinary aspects of trips, even if it's just a brief mention.